Big Z is coming home… for the first time since signing a 1 year deal in DC, Zdeno Chara will play against his former team in his former home. But there are no time for pleasantries, the B's (who did bounce back Sunday vs. NYR) will look to spoil his coming home party, as they search for more consistency in their own game.
No doubt it'll be strange to see Zdeno Chara in TD Garden as an opposing player after 14 years in Boston, what will be even weirder is the fact that there will be no fans for his return. I remember going to the LAK game when Milan Lucic returned, and the roar he received…
I can not even imagine what kind of ovation Zdeno would have gotten in a sold out TD Garden tonight. It stinks. I was in the building for Game 5 in Boston when he started the game after suffering a broken jaw in Game 4… I still get CHILLS.
It would have been so amazing if we could have re-lived some of those moments with the crowd being there. Feel like it would have been just as loud as Game 5 of the Finals when he came back from his jaw injury. It would have been very special. But still, it's gonna be great to see him back in Boston. He's been doing great this year. We definitely miss him but happy he's succeeding." - Brandon Carlo via BostonBruins.com
Can't thank Chara enough for the last 14 years, and it's kinda ironic the B's are banged up on the back end and could use a guy of his caliber right now… Happy to hear he's doing well and playing well in DC…
He spoke to the media yesterday, said it was nice to see his family and be a dad for a day again (his family has stayed back in Boston).
But like I said, the Bruins have their own problems to worry about…
After dropping 4 of their previous 5 games they finally rebounded Sunday afternoon with a big win against the Rangers. They now sit THIRD in the East behind the Caps and the Islanders (although they have 3 games in hand). Bruce Cassidy sat Chris Wagner and Anders Bjork after calling out his middle six in a blow out loss last Friday Night against the Rangers… But the key problem area outside of secondary scoring (which always plagues the B's) has been the defense. Jeremy Lauzon suffered a broken hand in Tahoe, he had a tremendous start to the year as a shutdown guy with Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing. Matt Grzelcyk has been in and out of the lineup with an aggravating LBI. Kevan Miller has been sidelined due to his knee as well. Three key guys on defense out of the lineup and the cracks began to show for the Bruins.
Don't get me wrong, they were in both games until the 3rd period in those blowout losses to the NYI and NYR. But the inability to tighten up and make plays in their defensive end, just sloppy, sloppy play in front of their respective goaltenders was pretty disgusting to see. Yes, the D has been depleted, but that's even more of a reason to take care of your own zone first and foremost. It was just sloppy, and quite frankly not Bruins hockey. Are the Bruins worse than their record? No, I believe they have a solid team, but the cracks are showing and they need to get back on track and it starts tonight.
Marchand - Bergeron - Pastrnak
Ritchie - Krejci - DeBrusk
Frederic - Coyle - Smith
Kuraly - Studnicka - Wagner
Zboril - McAvoy
Grzelcyk - Carlo
Tinordi - Clifton
The top line set the tone vs. NYR on Sunday afternoon and I expect them to do the same against a rock solid Capitals team tonight.
Bruce Cassidy says that both David Krejci and Matt Grzelcyk will be game-time decisions tonight but they're "trending in the right direction" and should play. Krejci returns after missing the last 4 games due to a LBI. Jake DeBrusk will reunite with him and Ritchie. There's been a ton of frustration surrounding DeBrusk from the fans and I'm sure the front office, waiting to see if he'll put it together this year. Hopefully 46's return can help him get his motor going. He's the Bruins one true trade chip, his name has been in rumors for what feels like forever now, but his value right now is low. Bruce Cassidy knows "Jake has more to give", Jake knows he has more to give, and hopefully he can put together a solid stretch of games or else he's gonna find himself in a trade package.
Jack Studnicka has been one of the few bright spots in these last few losses. He's absolutely due. With Krejci returning Cassidy is slotting him down to 4C, staying at his natural position and shifting Kuraly to wing. He's hit about a billion posts, has 2A in his last 4 games, would love to see him get one here. Wags got the message from Bruce and will return after a one game scratch.
Frederic - Coyle - Smith make up your third line. Coyle has looked great, 3 goals in his last 4 games and is starting to heat up. The more secondary scoring the Bruins get, the better off they'll be.
Bjork is the odd man out for the second straight game, tough cause I'd love to see him play but Studnicka is out playing him right now. If DeBrusk falters in this next stretch of games I can see Bjork replacing him. Just a tough numbers game for Bjork with Frederic playing well.
We'll get our first look at rugged defenseman Jarred Tinordi (who drove 17 hours from Nashville to avoid quarantine!!), who the B's picked up on waivers over the weekend after their back end was depleted due to injuries to Grzelcyk, Lauzon and Miller. He's a big body (6'6, 209 pounds), more of a stay at home defenseman, he'll get in your face. Good bit of nasty. Interested to see how he'll play tonight w. Clifton. He'll be No. 84 in your programs, and the first player in B's history to rock 84.
Fired up for Grzelcyk to be back, especially since the PP hasn't looked too good with him out of the lineup. Doesn't even need to be said how much of a better team the Bruins are with him in the lineup. Like McAvoy he can kinda do it all.
Jakub Zboril looked great alongside McAvoy on Sunday afternoon, he'll have to continue that strong play into tonight against a very good Capitals team. Despite all the injuries, Charlie McAvoy has looked OUTSTANDING. #ChuckNorris. Need him to bring it tonight.
Tuukka Rask makes his 3rd straight start tonight and will look to earn his 300th career win.
Some other news, notes and quotes…
- No timeline set but Ondrej Kase has been skating but has yet to join the team for practice.
- Kevan Miller has been doing off ice workouts and may join the team for practice later this week. I'm a little worried about Miller and his knee (all the more reason the B's shouldaaa kept Charaaaaa). I think the biggest need for this team is absolutely a top 4 dman (hello Ekholm). But when will Don Sweeney pull the trigger?
- Sounds like Adam McQuaid will enter a player development role. No one better for the job.
- It's Patrice Bergeron's team.
B's kick off a 3 game home stand tonight. Yes, emotional seeing Chara return to Boston in a Caps sweater but the Bruins have their own problems. Time to string some wins together and get back to the top of the East Division. LFG.
It's a great night to win a hockey game.